Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases in which the optic nerve, which connects the eye to the brain, is damaged by the pressure of the fluid inside the eye. This might be because the intraocular pressure is higher than normal, or because the nerve is more susceptible to damage from pressure. This may affect one or both eyes.
Anyone can develop glaucoma. However risk factors include ageing, family history of glaucoma, very short sighted patients, and African or Caribbean origin patients.
As most of the time people cannot feel the pressure inside the eye and the damage happens slowly, patient may not know that they have glaucoma until a lot of damage has been done. That damage cannot be put right, so it is particularly important that glaucoma is diagnosed early.
The best way to make sure of this is to have a regular eye examination with the Optometrist. If somebody is at risk of developing glaucoma, they should have an eye examination at least every two years, or more often if the optometrist recommends it.
Untreated glaucoma can be serious as it causes gradual visual loss that might cause total blindness. However, the good news is that most of the times treatment with eye drops might stop glaucoma getting worse. Early diagnosis is essential for better prognosis.